Wikipedia, the world's most popular free online encyclopedia, has declared a shutdown of the English language version service for 24 hours worldwide, beginning at 12:00 A.M US Eastern Time on Wednesday, January 18 to protest against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (the Protect Intellectual Property ACT).
Wikipedia's English version Web site will be blacked out in protest against SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (the Protect Intellectual Property ACT), which the US Congress is currently working on. These bills are intended to allow copyright holder to block access to domestic and foreign Web sites which allegedly spread illegal contents. But blacklisting those Web site and stopping advertisers from making money from them would make a big impact in the open Internet world. Supporters of the bills include USCC (U.S. Chamber of Commerce), MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), which are urging the Congress to pass the bills quickly.
Wikipedia has urged worldwide readers to agree with its decision, saying, It is the opinion of the English Wikipedia community that both of these bills, if passed, would be devastating to the free and open web.
We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, the Web site, which draws around 75 million unique visitors every month, said.
Wikipedia has also strongly criticized the bills, saying they are commercially motivated, ultimately to make money.
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Wikipedia is not alone in its fight. The Anti-SOPA protest is spreading into a bigger scale as Mozilla, Reddit, WordPress and Boing Boing have also joined the protest.
Critics say the the bills will damage the technology industry. Already tech titans such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Twitter have stronlgy spoken out against the legislation as they threaten to burn up their livelihood.